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Smithsburg to monitor new East School Lane traffic pattern

Critics say decision to make road one-way 'compounds traffic'

September 07, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION
  • Smithsburg Town Council member Jerome Martin dicusses the new traffic patern on East School Lane. Motorists are able to enter the Smithsburg High School playing field areas from East School Lane but can no longer leave the fields via East School Lane. Traffic leaving the school must use Bradbury Avenue.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG -- A decision by the Smithsburg Town Council to eliminate traffic on East School Lane leaving Smithsburg High School is drawing concerns from school officials and others who want the decision to be reversed.

East School Lane extends to North Main Street just below the high school.

After football games, vehicles use East School Lane to leave the school grounds and enter North Main Street, town officials said.

There is no traffic light at the intersection of East School Lane and North Main Street, and traffic sometimes bottlenecks when a lot of vehicles come out of East School Lane, according to Smithsburg Town Council member Jerome Martin and Smithsburg Police Chief George L. Knight Jr.

It is hard for two vehicles to pass on parts of East School Lane and some residents on the street complained about cars driving on their lawns after events at the school, according to Knight and Martin.

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"It was just not a safe situation," Martin said.

Earlier this year, the town council voted to prohibit vehicles from leaving the high school property on East School Lane. Under the council's decision, traffic leaving the school must use Bradbury Avenue.

At the end of the road where traffic from the school used to enter East School Lane, a sign reads "Do Not Enter. No Exit." At a town council work session July 27, six people spoke in favor of the council reversing its decision.

One of the people who spoke was Boyd Michael, deputy superintendent for Washington County Public Schools. Michael said a previous principal told him that he believes the change makes traffic conditions worse.

Michael said allowing people to leave the school grounds using only Bradbury Avenue "compounds traffic," and Smithsburg High School Principal Karim Shortridge said he is concerned about people getting impatient trying to get out of the school after large events.

Shortridge said that is of particular concern since sporting events can be emotional.

"We do have a concern over safety with this change," said Shortridge, who expressed concerns about the situation at the July 27 work session.

Although Martin said the decision to eliminate traffic on East School Lane is a "done deal," he said town council members are going to monitor the situation to see how the new traffic pattern works.

"We haven't even had a chance to see how this works. We want to at least give this a shot," Martin said.

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